Curran gets all-clear to face Crossmaglen
GAELIC GAMES:Late yesterday afternoon the final piece of the jigsaw fell into place for Kevin McStay. The former Mayo All Star and Sunday Game analyst is back in the arena tomorrow as coach of Roscommon and Connacht champions St Brigid’s, who in the All-Ireland semi-finals take on a Crossmaglen Rangers side in pursuit of the club Holy Grail, a third successive title.
“As recently as an hour ago,” he said yesterday evening, “I got word that Shane Curran (the team’s veteran goalkeeper) will definitely be okay to start. He damaged a quad in a challenge match and we were a little concerned because he’s an important part of the team with his experience.”
When it comes to facing the most formidable jersey in modern club football, Brigid’s collectively have experience. They’ve previously played Cross in an All-Ireland semi-final, six years ago, and a final in 2011. Doesn’t tomorrow’s third meeting make it a bit of a saga?
“I suppose it does,” says McStay, sounding unconvinced. “But if it is, it’s all one way so far because Crossmaglen keep winning. There was plenty of opportunity for Brigid’s to have done things differently because there were only three points in it both times but having said that, Cross always looked like they’d probably win.”
This instalment is McStay’s first time in charge and he believes that if nothing else the previous encounters have done one thing for the Kiltoom club: helped to emphasise they are playing a team, however accomplished, and not a reputation.
“I’m convinced a lot of teams build up psychological pressure on themselves against Crossmaglen. When people talk about what county teams they’d beat there’s a level of hype that can be unsettling.
“We’ve huge respect for them – how could you could not with the records they’ve set – but we’ve also been competitive against them in the past and now we have to move it a bit further.”
McStay’s team also has experience of one of the key challenges in winning the championship: managing the long lay-off between winning the provincial title and contesting the All-Ireland semi-final. St Brigid’s have the Connacht title in their pockets since November.
“Crossmaglen won Ulster a week or so later, so we’ve been preparing since then for this,” he says, “but we’ve had to wait two and a half months to get at them. It’s very hard to read form now but I’ve stressed to them: find good form for the next four weeks and we can win an All-Ireland.”
Tomorrow’s All-Ireland club hurling semi-final replay between champions Loughgiel Shamrocks from Antrim and Galway’s St Thomas has been moved following a pitch inspection yesterday at Dublin’s Parnell Park.
The match will now take place in St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, at the earlier time of 2pm.
Dublin forward Diarmuid Connolly will be out of action for the next month. According to a team spokesperson yesterday morning, the player “is undergoing treatment on an ankle injury sustained in the Kerry NFL game and is scheduled to return to play over the next four weeks”.
That will rule Connolly out of the matches against Mayo and possibly Kildare.
The team are already short Michael Darragh Macauley for the Mayo fixture, as he is suspended.
MUNSTER (SH v Ulster) panel: Clare – Brendan Bugler and Colin Ryan; Cork – Anthony Nash, Shane O’Neill, Tom Kenny, Pa Cronin, Paudie OSullivan and Patrick Horgan; Limerick – Tom Condon, Donal O’Grady, Gavin O’Mahony, Wayne McNamara, Shane Dowling and Graeme Mulcahy; Tipperary – Brendan Cummins, Paul Curran, Brendan Maher, Shane McGrath, Patrick Maher, Brian O’Meara and Eoin Kelly; Waterford – Michael Walsh, Noel Connors, Shane Sullivan, Stephen Daniels and Paraic Mahony. Management: Liam Sheedy (Tipperary, manager), Jamesie OConnor (Clare), Stephen Frampton (Waterford)
MUNSTER (SF v Ulster): Clare - Alan Clohessy, Gary Brennan and Rory Donnelly; Cork - Noel O Leary (captain), Paudie Kissane, Paul Kerrigan, Aidan Walsh, Colm O’Neill, Donncha OConnor and Eoin Cadogan; Kerry - Brendan Kealy, Marc O Se and Aidan O’Mahony; Limerick - Ger Collins, John ORiordan, Thomas Lee and Séamus O’Carroll; Tipperary – Paul Fitzgerald and Paddy Codd; Waterford - Tony Grey, Maurice O’Gorman, Paul Whyte and Gary Hurney. Management: Ger OSullivan (Cork, manager), Maurice Horan (Limerick), Ger OKeeffe (Kerry)